The Collective Unconscious and Beyond in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • Matthew A. Fike


As noted in the introduction, Jung’s theory of poetry, laid out in two essays, presents a direct challenge to Freud. “On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry” states that “a work of art is not a disease, and consequently requires a different approach from the medical one.” Jung goes on to claim that “although a psychology with a purely biological orientation can explain a good deal about man in general, it cannot be applied to a work of art and still less to man as creator.” These statements constitute the crux of Jung’s critique of Freudian literary criticism. He is wrong, of course, in the second: the exploration of literature from a psycho-biological point of view—what Jung calls “personal criteria”—does not exclude the possibility that art may also be “supra-personal … a thing and not a personality” and that it can also “be judged by personal criteria” (CW 15,107–8/71–72). “Psychology and Literature” correctly states that there are indeed two partially overlapping categories of artistic creation: the psychological, which always arises “from the sphere of conscious human experience” and is presumably amenable to medically based critique; and the visionary, which may reflect both the personal unconscious and the elusive realm of the collective unconscious (CW 15, 139–41/89–90, 152/97).



Artistic Creation Primary Imagination Latent Content Manifest Content Unconscious Mind 
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© Matthew A. Fike 2009

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  • Matthew A. Fike

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